I blame Jürgen Grobler. Or possibly Team GB. Or whoever had the frankly inspired idea to announce the GB Olympic crews by means of a row-past (genius – the drama!) Anyway, whoever is to blame, the point is that I was excited and distracted and not in my right mind around 11 a.m. today. Which was precisely the moment that one of the girls in my rowing club emailed everyone to find out if we were interested in entering the Cardiff Half Marathon in October. That’s a running half marathon: 13 long miles of RUNNING. Not rowing: running.
So taken with the blow-by-blow team updates on Twitter was I that, without giving it due and sober consideration, I sent back an immediate reply. “I’m in!!” With that one email I sealed my fate and agreed to run in public for a distance far beyond my wildest imaginings (or nightmares).
What remains to be seen is how I will train for this monstrous event around my existing weekly commitments of three outings on the river and one bootcamp session which, given my tendency to fatigue, will leave me one running day to play with every week. And how I’ll cope with running on tarmac when I’m used to forgiving, mossy forest trails.
However daunted the new Olympic rowing squad are feeling about the prospect of the Olympics and the pressure to win, it’s nothing compared with the apprehension that has overcome me with the thought of all those miles between me and the finish. “New chapter”, tweeted Pete Reed this afternoon. I know what he means.
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Pete Reed and Andy Triggs Hodge make it look easy
Photo by Peter Spurrier, Intersport Images
There are two things I really, really want to achieve in rowing this summer season (in addition to nailing my first win). The first is to get out in a single scull (though not until the water warms up a lot). The second is to try rowing in a pair.
For rowing virgins out there, a pair is a boat with two people, each with one blade. It’s regarded as pretty challenging as the fewer people in a boat, the harder it is to balance, but that’s precisely why I want to try it. So I was pretty interested to find this video on just this subject, featuring interviews with some of the best in the game, including Pete Reed who (with Andrew Triggs Hodge) is a triple world silver medallist as well as winning a gold at Beijing in the four.
Martin Cross, gold medal winner in the 1984 Olympics, sums up the challenge: “The pair is the natural boat for the tough men of rowing – the people who want to prove something.”
And as Pete Reed adds, “There are no stabilisers… the skill factor is very high.”
One question remains, though: who will join me? I need someone who can match me in strength, and it’s a well known fact that I’m by far the strongest and heaviest in the ladies’ squad*.
Equally importantly, as one of the rowers interviewed said, “You’ve got to get on; it’s more of a marriage”.
So, then. 29th February may have passed, but I’m still getting down on bended knee. Who is willing to take my hand?
*possibly not entirely true; the opposite might even be the case
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